Turning your dog into a finely tuned shed hunting hound is very possible, especially if they are already experienced bird dogs.
The first thing you need to do is introduce your pup to an antler. Be careful not to use an antler with long tines, you wouldn’t want your pup to poke themselves or even yourself.
If your dog refuses to carry the hard bone antler, you can try purchasing a store bought soft antler for training purposes, until they get the feel of a real antler.
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Just as you would when starting to train your pup for bird hunting, play fetch with them inside, let them get used to playing with the antler and carrying it around.
The reason for having your dog inside during this beginning stage is to ensure they focus on the antler and to have no outside distractions. Eventually, move the game outside.
Once your pup is comfortable playing fetch with the antler both inside and outside, you can start the medial stage training.
In this stage you can teach your pup to “find the bone.” Start by hiding the antler where the dog can see it, and slowly start progressing to where you are hiding the bone in tall grass or under leaves, basically anywhere that the dog can’t see the tines sticking up.
Make sure to always encourage your pup when they return the antler to you, this way they will be confident when searching for sheds.
Once your pup has become an expert at finding the antler under concealment, it’s time to begin the last stage.
In this finale stage, your pup should be used to finding the antler due to your scent being on it. In order to rid the antlers of scent, wear latex gloves and spray the antler with scent-eliminating spray, and start hiding the antler in plain sight again.
Once they have gotten accustomed to the lack of scent, start hiding the scent-eliminated antler where the dog can’t see it.
You can even purchase antler-scented spray to wipe down the hidden antler with; this will allow your pups to acquire the waxy scent antlers have at the base when they are out in the wild.
Let us know if you have success teaching your dog to shed hunt!
Featured image via Owyheestar